For a few moments there wasn’t anything else but an evening grosbeak pressed under claws to a branch of the nectarine tree as the young Cooper’s hawk tore through the feathers and flicked them into the air.
The raptor jerked his head one way, and then the other, with each tug and swallow of the sinewy flesh. His red eye a waning sun.
It wasn’t long until the other birds that had darted away congregated again at the feeder.
A cluster of lesser finches around the orange Fiestaware plate on a birdbath stand, piled with thistle and black-oil sunflower seeds.
The hawk had flown in rearward, scooping his wings back and up as if trying to stay afloat in water — his legs thrust out in front. Talons speared the fleeing bird like an hors d’oeuvre.
The yearling scours the bark for any speck of remaining flesh, shakes his head and hops to another branch, begins to groom his plumage, then seeing me in the window, soars away.
Beneath the tree, feathers cover the crowns of full-seeded dandelion heads, are caught in the crevices of bark, nestle atop the river rock wall.
But the bones, the eyes, the feet, the beak, all the rest of the evening grosbeak is nightfall.
Elizabeth Jacobson’s second book, Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air, won the New Measure Poetry Prize from Free Verse Editions (Parlor Press, 2019) and The New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for both Best New Mexico book and Best New Mexico Poetry, 2019. She is the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico and the reviews editor for Terrain.org.